The government said Monday its key composite index of economic indicators shows the economy "worsening" for the first time in more than six years, reinforcing the view that Japan may have entered a recession.

The Cabinet Office's coincident index of business conditions for March fell 0.9 point from the previous month to 99.6 against the 2015 base of 100, according to a government survey.

An economic downturn would be a major setback for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as his government is poised to raise the consumption tax in October to 10 percent from the current 8 percent, a move that could dampen consumer spending and hurt the economy.